Responding to the Prime Minister’s speech on plans to ‘level up’ the country, Jo Bibby, Director of Health, at the Health Foundation, said:
‘Our COVID-19 impact inquiry report lays bare the devastating impact that inequalities in health had in the pandemic. Health and wealth are inextricably linked. With more than a third of 25 to 64 year-olds not working due to long-term sickness or disability in the poorest areas of England, poor health will act as a brake on the country’s recovery and future prosperity.
‘The government has said addressing health inequalities will be at the core of its levelling up agenda and the Prime Minister has acknowledged today that healthy life expectancy needs to improve. But as yet, there is no sign of meaningful action or investment to make this a reality. Current plans appear to be partial and fragmented, and many deprived areas where people are likely to have poorest health have not been identified as priorities for investment.
‘The government must grasp this opportunity to put health at the heart of levelling up, with clear targets to improve healthy life expectancy and a regular, independent assessment of the nation’s health laid before parliament. This should include Ministers working together to align priorities across departments. There needs to be a real partnership between national and local government to deliver investment in jobs, housing, education and communities. And a greater role for the NHS in improving population health. Doing so will pay dividends for the nation’s health and prosperity.’
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